Interested in Habits? Want a Free Bonus Gift? Of Course!

My new book, Better Than Before, explains how we can master our habits. In it, I reveal the secret to changing habits—really!

It turns out that changing habits isn’t that hard, when you know what to do. The book hits the shelves on March 17, 2015.

Pre-orders really help a book, by building buzz among the media, booksellers, and readers. If you’re inclined to buy Better Than Before, pre-ordering now is a big help.

So, as a thank-you to readers who pre-order the book, my publisher is offering a limited-edition bonus set. As you see in the image, you’ll get…

  • A Better Than Before cell-phone case (for the iPhone 5 or 6, or Samsung 5)
  • A wallet card with my Habits Manifesto
  • A bookplate signed by me

 

To receive your gift, pre-order the book from your favorite retailer, save your receipt, and click here to fill out the form with your order confirmation. If you’ve already pre-ordered, don’t worry — there are instructions telling you what to do. (And thank you!)

Want more information before you commit yourself to a pre-order?

To read an excerpt, look here.

To listen to a clip of the audio-book, listen here (that’s me, reading).

To check out other habit-related materials, click here. (For instance, you can get one-pagers on “Eating Better Than Before,” “Working Better Than Before, ” “Exercising Better Than Before,” and my favorite, “Reading Better Than Before.”)

Remember, you won’t be charged for the book until it ships.

This offer runs until February 15, 2015. Alas, my publisher can offer this in the U.S. only, and has a limited amount, so I apologize in advance if we run out.

As always, readers, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm. If you live in a tour city, I hope I see you this spring. If you live in L.A., San Diego, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Princeton, Washington D.C., Boston, Madison CT, Cedar Rapids, Philadelphia, or of course New York City, I’m headed your way. Please come, tell your friends. (Tour dates in Canada, UK., and Australia coming soon.)

Better Than Before  was very tough to write; habit change is a very challenging, large subject.  But I loved writing this book.

As always, readers, thank you for your support and enthusiasm.

Thank You, Readers, For All Your Good Wishes

I want to say thank you to everyone who wrote me, one way or another, to send good wishes to me and my family after my announcement that my husband is cured — yes, that’s right, cured — of hepatitis C.

I wasn’t able to answer every comment on my blog and on Facebook, but believe me, I read every single one.

I thought I couldn’t get any happier, but knowing that so many people were rejoicing with us cranked me right up to 11.

Also, many people told me that as a result of my post, they’d signed up to be an organ donor.  Just think: years from now, some family may be as relieved and ecstatic as my family is right now, because of a small action someone took this week.

Thank you. I’m very, very happy.

Today Is One of the Happiest Days of My Life. Here’s Why.

Today is one of the very happiest days of my life.

I was happy when my two daughters were born, but having a baby is such a tremendous new responsibility; I was extremely happy, but also awestruck and slightly terrified.

I was happy on my wedding day, but I was also worried about how the whole day would unfold. For instance, strangely, I was very concerned that my veil might fall off as I was going down the aisle.

Etc.

Today, though, I’m purely, absolutely happy.

In The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write about the fact that my husband got hepatitis C from a blood transfusion during a heart operation, when he was eight years old. You really don’t want to have hepatitis C; eventually, it destroys your liver. My husband tried many treatments over the years, but nothing worked.

I’ve so appreciated the thoughtfulness of readers who have emailed me to make sure that we knew about possible new treatments, or to send along their good wishes for my husband’s health. Last year, a new treatment was approved, and my husband went on it right away.

As of this morning, he has been declared CURED A few hours ago, we got the email from his extraordinary doctor, Dr. Leona Kim-Schluger. He is now free from the virus. It’s over.

I am so, so happy, and grateful, and relieved, and thrilled. I can’t really put it into words.

And yet there’s something more I want to say.

I love children’s literature, and at this minute, I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favorite books, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

It’s Meg’s wedding day, and she and Laurie start talking about drinking wine. Laurie explains, “I don’t care for it; but when a pretty girl offers it, one doesn’t like to refuse, you see.”

Meg answers, “But you will, for the sake of others, if not for your own. Come, Laurie, promise, and give me one more reason to call this the happiest day of my life.”

And in that spirit, my dear readers, out of the fullness of my heart, let me ask something of you, so I have one more reason to call this the happiest day of my life.

If you support organ donation, take a moment to sign the donor registry, and also to tell your friends and family that you’d want to donate your organs.

Very few of us die in a way that permits us to donate our organs, and in a time of sorrow and shock, the people around you might not know what you would’ve wanted. Let them know, now, if you would want to be an organ donor. Over the last many years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my husband’s liver, and I’m very glad that he gets to keep the one he was born with. But things might not have turned out this way.

Tears are running down my face…I’m beside myself with joy! I hardly know what to do with myself. What do you do on one of the happiest days of your life? I think I’ll go buy his favorite dessert: a pralines’n’cream ice cream cake.

Fill in the Blank: X Is a Good Servant But a Bad Master

I love to collect variations on phrases, such as the “X is the new Y.” “Orange is the new black,” “Breakfast is the new lunch,” “Forties are the new thirties,” “Halloween is the new Christmas,” or–and I was inspired by this one for Happier at Home–“September is the new January.” (I started this happiness project in September, instead of January, because September also seems like a good time for a fresh start.)

I came up with my own fill-in-the-blank phrase, “___ is a good servant but a bad master.” I’ve been thinking about different ways to fill in that blank.

Because I’ve been writing and thinking about habits for so long, to write Better Than Before, my first answer is, no surprise, habit. And indeed, habit is a good servant but a bad master. A very, very good servant, and a very, very bad master.

Other possibilities…

Money

Technology (or Facebook, Twitter, email…)

Alcohol

Punctuality

Caffeine

Television

Anger

Food

Ambition

Planning

The flesh

Ego

Leisure

Productivity

What would you add? I don’t know why I get such a big kick out of lists like this, but I do.

Like Jung and Wharton, Do You Remember When You First Knew Yourself?

In my writing about habits and happiness, I keep coming back to the same idea: to shape our habits, to build our happiness, we have to start with a knowledge of ourselves — our own nature, our own interest, our own temperament.

It sounds so easy to know yourself — after all, you hang out with yourself all day! But it’s very, very challenging. We’re so distracted by how we wish we were, or by what think we ought to be, or by what other people expect from us…we lose touch with what’s actually true.

The first step in self-knowledge is self-consciousness. I was struck by these two stories, by two great minds: Carl Jung and Edith Wharton. They both remembered exactly the moment when they knew themselves for the first time.

In a 1959 “Face to Face” TV interview, Carl Jung describes:

That was in my eleventh year. There I suddenly—on my way to school, I stepped out of a mist. It was just as if I had been in a  mist, walking in a mist, and I stepped out of it, and I knew, “I am. I am what I am.” And then I thought, “But what have I been before?” And then I found that I had been in the mist, not knowing to differentiate myself from things. I was just one thing, among many things.

 You can watch the video of the interview here, at minute 3:01.

In the very first paragraph of her autobiography,  A Backward Glance, Edith Wharton recalls:

It was on a bright day of midwinter, in New York. That little girl who eventually became me, but as yet was neither me nor anybody else in particular, but merely a soft anonymous morsel of humanity–this little girl, who bore my name, was going for a walk with her father. The episode is literally the first thing I can remember about her, and therefore I date the birth of her identity from that day.

Do you have a particular memory of realizing, “I am”? I have a very vivid memory of standing on a step-stool to look in the mirror above the sink in my kindergarten. I thought very distinctly, “That’s me in the mirror. I’m right here, right now, standing at the sink, looking in the mirror.” But I don’t recall if that was the first time I’d had a thought like that.

Weirdly, when I remember that moment, I remember thinking that thought, but I envision myself from a distance — I don’t see my face in the mirror, but my whole body, from across the room.

How about you?

To know ourselves — it’s the great challenge of our whole lives.

If you want to know yourself better, to shape your habits better, take this quiz.